Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch?

A recent Fast Company blog by Shawn Parr quoted famous management thought leader Peter Drucker in his headline: “Culture eats strategy for lunch”.  How can culture be the trump card in a hand that contains so many high cards like mission, vision, strategy and objectives?  Surely a well thought out and planned process to achieve the overarching financial goals of an organization will take a company through a less than ideal culture? 

After all, we’ve been doing it for years.  Companies have existed and in many cases flourished without understanding or knowing anything about corporate culture.  In fact, the phrase “corporate culture’ rarely showed up prior to 1980.  Companies have been playing poker: bluffing their competitors, trading for new cards, raising the stakes.  Everyone is searching for the royal flush that will make them the tournament leader.

A four year study of 9 – 10 firms in each of 20 countries, carried out by Kotter and Heskett of the Harvard Business School, found that firms with strong adaptive cultures based on shared values, out performed firms with rigid or weak cultures by a significant margin.  The revenue grew four times faster.  The rate of job creation was seven times higher.  The stock grew twelve times faster and the profit performance was 750 times higher!

The competitive environment is shifting again. It’s not enough anymore to just create the strategy.  It’s not enough to build out the tactics to implement the corresponding initiatives.  It’s not even enough to institutionalize good change management practices.  All is for not, if you don’t align the core foundation of your company, the corporate culture.  It’s time to embrace corporate culture capital as the next leading advantage for boosting your company’s performance. 
Has your company performance been successful in spite of yourselves?  How will you embrace the cultural capital frontier and deal yourself the best possible hand?

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